Wednesday, February 01, 2012

BP candidate Scissura: "I get" the old/new/future Brooklyn

Carlo Scissura, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's designated heir--former Chief of Staff, now Special Advisor so he can campaign--discusses his political predictions and political future in a mid-December 2011 interview with Roberto Perez of The Perez Notes.



His one political prediction, "Albany redistricting will be as partisan as it has ever been," was a gimme.

Next question: why Carlo Scissura for Borough President, and not rumored candidates State Senators Eric Adams and Kevin Parker, and Assemblyman Nick Perry?

Why Carlo?

Scissura, prudently, did not say 1) that he's Markowitz's candidate 2) he's a lawyer, not as cartoon-y as Markowitz, and 3) in a borough where a good number of voters vote along ethnic/racial lines, he's the only announced white candidate among the four listed.

(The above potential candidates have not committed, though I'd bet Adams, at least, is on board. And the race could be shaken up if, say, Council Members Dominic Recchia and Letitia James decide to run.)

"We're all good people, and we're all going to have great ideas for Brooklyn, but why me? Why me? Simple. I'm the son of immigrants who came to Brooklyn. I built my life here. I've done that things that a Borough President should do. I was on a Community Board for ten years, so I know what Community Boards are like. I was on a school board..."

"I was raised by a single mom [as of 15]... my mother works for a union... I get people. I get this borough. I love this borough. I'm going to come out with, I believe, some great visions for this borough, for the future. Let me tell you, the borough presidency is a very unique job. you're not a legislator, and you're not the mayor, you're somewhere in between. You have to really get where people are going...  I get the old Brooklyn, the new Brooklyn, the Brooklyn of yesterday, the Brooklyn of today, and the Brooklyn of tomorrow. And I'm the one to put it together."

The full interview

Here's the full audio interview, with excerpts, concerning efforts to spruce up Fourth Avenue (and the importance of affordable housing along with rezonings), Coney Island revitalization, the importance of increasing bus service and ferries, and education.

"I'm a grassroots guy," he says at one point. "Everything I do is from the bottom up. I've always said, I think working with schools taught me that, you let people yell at you when they have to... The more they talk, the more I learn. The more I listen, the more that can get done for the neighborhoods."

What should come out in the campaign is where he differs, if anywhere, with his boss and mentor. One place suggested by the interview: measured support for bike lanes, a topic that exercises Markowitz.

Scissura says, regarding rezonings, "My opinion is 30% must be for affordable housing period, whatever you build you want a rezoning and you're a developer and you come to me as Borough President, I will say to you, I will not approve it unless you commit to 30% affordable housing period."

The devil is in the details, however. Scissura also uses the term "workforce housing," a term generally applied to moderate- and middle-income housing. So any discussion of "affordable housing" has to address the income levels for whom the housing is targeted.

Asked about schools, he says, "Parental involvement is the most important thing, so mayoral control is good, as long as you have parent involvement, mayoral control is good, as long as you have community education councils with teeth."

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